The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends breastfeeding babies exclusively for the first six months. However, not all parents are able to breastfeed, and some choose to supplement breastfeeding with formula. The next step is serving baby food. Most babies are ready to start solids between four and six months old. A baby feeding tracker is an excellent tool to gauge how much your baby is eating and when.
Once your baby begins solids, it can be hard to remember what they ate, how much, and when.
Regardless if your baby prefers to breastfeed, bottle-feed, or a combination of both, there are guidelines parents should follow before starting solids with their infant.
Read on for tips and recommendations to give your baby a solid start with solids!
Signs of Readiness
Like most milestones, your baby will send you signals that they are ready to try baby food. Most babies are ready between four and six months. The APA advises that parents not start solids before four months old or wait much longer than six months old.
After the introduction of solids, it is recommended that babies continue to breastfeed until their first birthday, or longer, based on the family’s preferences and lifestyle.
If you are unsure if your baby is ready for solids, speak with your pediatrician and look for the following signs of readiness:
- Your baby exhibits strong neck and head control.
- Your baby can sit up alone or with support (a high chair, Bumbo chair, or similar seat).
- They bring objects to their mouth.
- Your baby opens their mouth when food is offered.
- They seem interested in your food and watch you when you eat.
- They can swallow small amounts of food and do not push it out with their tongue.
- Your baby tries to grasp objects in their hands.
The signs of readiness indicate that your baby has developed the necessary physical skills to support themselves and swallow while eating and an interest in food.
What Foods Should You Offer First?
There is no specific order of foods your baby needs to try first when starting solids. By seven to eight months old, your child should be eating various foods covering the different food groups.
Many parents opt to serve baby cereal first. Before serving your baby cereal, ensure it is fortified cereal designed for infants. Foods such as cream of wheat, cream of rice, and oatmeal should not be used in place of fortified infant cereal.
Baby cereal is a bland grain-based mixture that you can mix with breastmilk or formula. Rice is the most common form of baby cereal. However, the APA recommends that if parents primarily use cereal as the first solid, they vary the type of cereal between rice, oat, barley, and multigrain because of the increased risk of arsenic in rice cereal.
Tips to Reduce Arsenic
Babies who are only fed rice cereal have an increased risk of arsenic poisoning. Arsenic is a naturally occurring substance in our environment, and babies and toddlers have the highest risk of accidental arsenic poisoning because of their diet.
In addition to varying the grains your baby consumes, parents should:
- Avoid using rice milk as a substitute for cow’s milk or breast milk
- Limit fruit juice, especially apple juice.
- Test your water if it comes from a private well.
In addition to solids, you can offer your baby fruits, veggies, and proteins as long as they are smooth in texture. Foods can be mashed, pureed, or strained and free of chunks.
A smooth texture, free of chunks, reduces choking hazards and is more appealing to your child as they begin navigating a new world of flavors and textures.
How to Begin Solids
To begin solids, the APA recommends starting with single-ingredient foods. With single-ingredient foods, you can watch for signs of an allergic reaction or intolerance.
Each time you offer your baby a new food, wait three to five days before introducing another one. As long as there is no reaction to the food, you can continue to serve each food for the three to five-day period. Every few days, offer a new food, and within a few months, your baby will be consuming a well-rounded diet that covers the rainbow!
Signs of Potential Food Allergies in Babies and Toddlers
While it is rare for babies to experience life-threatening allergies, about 3% of children under one have an allergy to at least one food. But even if your child is only experiencing a mild allergy, it is critical for parents to know the signs and symptoms of an allergy to prevent future occurrences.
The most common food allergies for babies are:
- Cow’s Milk
- Tree Nuts
Common Signs of Food Allergies:
- Itchy skin or hives
- Swelling or itching of the mouth or tongue
- Coughing, hoarseness, or swelling of the throat
- Itchy or watery eyes
- Stuffy or runny nose, sneezing
- DIfficult breathing, wheezing
- Nausea, diarrhea, vomiting
- Acid reflux
- Low blood pressure or loss of consciousness
- Pale skin
Babies experiencing food intolerance may also exhibit colic. Colic is defined by the 3-3-3 rule: three or more hours of crying, more than three times a week, for more than three weeks.
Colic is not an illness but the result of something irritating your baby. It can result from food allergies, overstimulation, digestive problems, or the inability to self-soothe.
Tracking Your Baby’s Meals
Keeping track of your baby’s first solids, meals, and nursing sessions is vital in providing a well-rounded diet. Our feeding tracker is designed to meet the needs of busy parents and has everything you need to track your baby’s meals from the first bottle or breastfeeding through starting solids.
Use our food tracker to log which new food your baby ate, what time their meal was, how much they ate, and their reaction; was it delicious or yucky? With a few easy taps, you can log your baby’s meal in our app.
Our app also makes it possible for parents to log potential allergies and food reactions. Keeping track of potential allergies is crucial to ensure your baby’s health.
All information logged in the app is sharable across devices, so you can share data back and forth with your partner, grandparents, and caregivers looking after your little one.
Starting solids is an exciting time for you and your baby! Look for signs of readiness, follow the one-ingredient rule, offer new foods every three to five days, and use our feeding tracker to start your baby on the solid eating journey!
Infant Food and Feeding. American Academy of Pediatrics. www.aap.org [accessed October 2023]
When, What, and How to Introduce Solid Foods. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
www.cdc.gov [accessed October 2023]
5 Ways to Reduce Arsenic in Your Child’s Diet. AAP Healthy Children website. www.healthychildren.org [accessed October 2023]
How Can I Tell If My Baby Has Food Allergies? Verywell Health. www.verywellhealth.com [accessed October 2023]